Coronavirus coin shortage has people cashing in on spare change

Wisconsin bank offers coin buyback program

Spare change could be an easy way to make bank.

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A nationwide coin shortage has motivated a Wisconsin bank to help local businesses in need by paying people to donate extra pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters.

Close up of woman smiling putting a coin inside piggy bank as investment

The Community State Bank last week launched a Coin Buy Back Program across its seven locations, handing out $5 to people who donate $100 in coins. The maximum bonus was $500 and the bank said it’s already reached its goal.

“The response has been tremendous,” Community State Bank President and CEO Scott Huedepohl said in a statement. “We’ve had people contacting us not only from our community but from all over the United States. Our goal was to generate enough coin inventory to help our local businesses. We met and far exceeded our goals.”

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The biggest donation was a whopping $4,000 in coins, a spokesperson for the bank said Tuesday of a customer who walked away with an extra $200 bonus. Customers weren't charged a coin-counting fee.

"We had several instances where the people brought their coins in said they didn't even want the bonus they just wanted to help small businesses," Greg Wall, chief innovation officer at Community State Bank, told FOX Business.

The coin buyback program comes as the coronavirus pandemic has fueled a coin shortage. And a number of stores have stopped giving back change as a result. Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain, reportedly stopped giving back change to customers earlier this month in response to the shortage.

Other retailers, like CVS and Wawa, have asked customers paying with cash to pay with exact change when possible.

CORONAVIRUS POSES NEW CHALLENGE TO US ECONOMY: A COIN SHORTAGE

Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said banks are facing coin shortages as a result of businesses related lockdowns.

"What’s happened is that with the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has gotten all, it's kind of stopped," Powell said during a two-day testimony before Congress. "At places where you go to give your coins and get credit at the store, get cash, folding money, those have not been working. Stores are closed. The whole system of flow has kind of come to a stop. We’re well aware of this."

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The Federal Reserve said in its statement that it was working with U.S. Mint and Reserve Banks to evenly distribute coins across banks and credit unions.

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